Why do the Symbols of one Sampradhaya differ from others?
A male devotee (Name hidden by myself) asked like this:
“Why don’t we (gaudya vaishnavas) put shankha, chakra, gadha, padma symbols as highly prescribed as per our shastras And as we are also from Madhava sampradaya!!!!????? They give mudra at the time of initiation, And also I seen almost all vaishnava sampradayas give madras and they also take shanka, chakra, gada, padma symbols Why so difference!!??? Kindly explain Prabhu Ji”
I am writing this with my painful heart thinking of the society that is giving only for external appearances.
See, I have already said that the symbols alone does not make the devotional process. They may help to develop an attachment with a system of study of God. But, they are not the tools to get the God.
These symbols are like an uniform dress code in schools. Symbols differentiate one sampradhaya/ cult/ spiritual organization from others.
Why I say so?
Because, every sampradhaya draws a particular pattern of tilak and call it as the lotus feet of Krishna. Thus, many types of feet are drawn. My question is: Why can’t they accept the similar symbol for the lotus feet Of the Lord?
In Srirangam Renganatha Swami temple, the first divya desam among the 108 divya desams, once there was a problem between two groups in drawing the pattern of tilak for the Lord’s deity. One says Vadakalai pattern and another says Thenkalai pattern. Then, they went to court to solve the issue.
A court case to decide the pattern of the symbol of lotus feet!
All because of the excessive attachment with the symbols, not internal reformations.
Symbols may be necessary to differentiate one set up from another and to develop a feel of devotion during the initial stage of devotion. But, it should not be insisted.
Because, different types of symbols may divide the people based on the symbols they wear.
Everyone draws Krishna with their own pattern of symbol. Then comes the questions like which form is supreme and authentic, etc.
Already there are many divisions and clashes in the society such as religion, caste, sect, appearance, etc. Should we add these devotional symbols also in the list of dividing factors?
I always support situating Krishna in our hearts.
We need not draw symbols according to one sampradhaya that differentiates us from other samporadhayas. Let all sampradhayas unite and select a common symbol for Krishna atleast.
However, since such symbols have been given by acharyas for such differentiation and to help the starting stage devotees to gain some grip in the sampradhaya, we wear them though we have some alternative thoughts in that. In brief, we honour the words of Acharya/ guru as it is. That’s all.
Basically, I do not encourage symbols on whatever basis because India is not growing fast only because of the issues out of symbols/ religions/ castes/ sects, etc. I always encourage hearty devotion in which Krishna is strongly situated in the heart and we strongly and sincerely chant Lord’s Holy names.
Symbols always lead to differences and even clashes.
If you need a symbol, even a small dot of symbol is enough to show that we believe god.
But, what happens now?
So many types of symbols with so many reasons.
Everyone gives a separate reason for their symbol.
In schools, they insist uniform dress codes just to make every student feel that all the people are equal irrespective of status.
Here, the symbols divide the society.
So, do not bother if the ISKCON do not recommend the symbols existing in the Madhwa sampradhaya.
The basis of symbol itself is just external.
Concentrate in internal changes. For a self and god realized devotee, even his dress is an unwanted symbol (!!!!). Nirvana is the final stage of every self and god realized person.
We came to this world without any symbols. Similarly, all our symbols will be burnt by the fire at the end during the funeral.
Only what remains for ever will be the records of our thoughts and performances when we were alive.
Sanyasa means deserting even the external symbols.
I always insist on situating Krishna in your hearts, not in the body parts.
If your guru insists you, wear symbols. If diksha will not be given without symbols, wear one. But, keep in mind that just symbols will not be sufficient and your internal changes are very important. After wearing the symbols, do not speak ill about the symbols of others and just concentrate in your way of devotion.
But, I repeat that the symbols are many and divisive. They are just to make us feel that we have Krishna and His sahas/ sahis with us.
Just by wearing the symbols, we can’t get liberated.
Only when we skip our material attachments and attach with Krishna, we can be elevated to the kingdom of Krishna.
So, focus on the INTERNAL. Let there be thousands of external symbols.
They will always exist. Let them be.
No one is going to reform these things because they fear for punishments from god. So, I take the lead and am writing daringly about developing internal changes/ reformations. But, we are focusing only on externals and the internals never grow beyond a certain level.
Krishna can be approached only with Prema, ie, internal love. Unlimited and selfless love.
Develop such a Prema.
Even the dress that we are wearing will be felt as attachment and unnecessary for us.
What to say about other such symbols?